Could you do the firewalk?

You’ve probably seen performers doing the ancient firewalk routine – they get a bed of coals burning hot, then stroll over it like it’s nothing. It’s one of those tropes that turns up everywhere and has almost become a corporate team-building cliche. Remember this, on The (US) Office?

 

It was an empowering experience from Pam, just as it’s still a rite of passage for dozens of cultures around the globe.

But what’s really going on? There’s quite a lot of debate about how firewalking works. Some scientists say it’s all about water: if your feet are wetted before the walk, you could get ash building up to create a protective barrier. Or maybe years of practice just make for hard calloused feet that can’t feel pain. However it works, it’s definitely not one to try at home! Look at this Mythbusters clip – and weep!

If you want to follow up on this subject, there is some amazing stuff about performers who can apparently withstand incredible temperatures, in this great little book by Houdini.

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